iPad as Laptop Replacement?

As I show off my iPad to various friends and colleagues, they have a lot of questions about how I use it. One of the biggest questions (and one that I had when I considered buying one) is whether it can serve as a laptop replacement.

My conclusion: Yes and No.

No as an everyday workhorse. I generate too much content and need the multi-tasking power and full-sized keyboard of a laptop. I also need a full-powered laptop for presentations, as the iPad version of Keynote is still fairly limited. So until I can afford a MacBook Air, I will stick with my 2008 MacBook as my main “work” computer.

But Yes, the iPad can substitute for a laptop in many situations, including some trips. Case in point: I recently made a four-day trip to Chicago for a combination of business and pleasure. I knew that I would mostly need a computer for simple email, blogging, and web browsing; no presentations, no major writing. I needed my calendar, to-do lists, Evernote, and my journal. I also wanted to be able to read books from my Kindle library. And I wanted (as always) to travel as light as possible, knowing that I would be spending some time walking around a university campus.

That meant that, for this trip at least, the iPad was perfect.

I downloaded a few new Kindle e-books before I left. I also brought my Zagg keyboard case so I could type a little faster if needed. It made the iPad heavier but still not as heavy as a laptop. Everything else was already on my iPad: Todo, Mail, Safari, Calendar, Contacts, Evernote, Dropbox, FeeddlerPro, WordPress, My Journal, even the latest issue of Sports Illustrated. It fit easily into my small Eddie Bauer sling pack with plenty of room for my travel documents and accessories. I never missed my laptop.

Now, next month I am headed to Denver and that trip will necessitate packing my laptop, as I am making a number of presentations, need the capability to edit some large documents in MS Word, and need my Bookends bibliography software. So I will haul the MacBook; at least I can use the large screen to research the latest MacBook Airs…


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